I’ve stayed in hotels all over the world but certain ones stick in your mind.
The Magyar in Székesfehérvár, Hungary. To say this was an old hotel would be an understatement. It is over 200 years old, and I am happy to report that there has been a makeover since I stayed there in 1999. There is now air conditioning.
There was no air conditioning in July of 1999 though I assure you it would have come in handy. It was sweltering and the choice was between keeping the window open to catch a little breeze otherwise suffer with the window shut. Of course, the open window came with flys, mosquitoes and grinding truck gears at no extra cost.
I was having the time of my life.
The good thing about staying in an old hotel is that you wake up and find yourself in the old city center. Early each morning, a colleague and I got up and wandered around, checking out churches, closed shops and war memorials. Walking up the side streets we’d see commuters toweling the morning dew off their cars…a practical and simple self carwash.
By breakfast time it was warming up and we’d position ourselves near an open window in the hotel restaurant. I remember it being hot already and the sun was beating down on us, and in our faces through the open window. However, eating breakfast, practically outside in a strange (and to me) exotic place, was too exciting to worry about being uncomfortable. They served us a combination Continental/American breakfast. There were croissants, pastries, cold meats and cheeses, and fresh squeezed orange juice. They also made sure we had bacon and eggs. Somehow, everything tasted better than anywhere else on earth.
After breakfast, a Hungarian colleague would pick us up and drive us over to the factory. The factory was several buildings on the grounds of an old defense contractor from back in the Eastern Bloc days. Imagine that you took over a large Lockheed Martin or Boeing facility and placed a lot of more prosaic businesses there, like small factories and warehouses. And the employees just shifted over to the new enterprises. Our Hungarian folks had some interesting stories to say the least. But more on that later because I have many many memories of Hungary and Székesfehérvár.
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